Port St. Joe Commissioner William Thursbay was arrested last Thursday on a DUI charge less than 20 minutes after leaving a Commission workshop on “open container” zones.

Port St. Joe Commissioner William Thursbay was arrested last Thursday on a DUI charge less than 20 minutes after leaving a Commission workshop on “open container” zones.

According to an arrest report from the Port St. Joe Police Department, Thursbay, 47, faces several charges after an accident along 20th Street and a section of the Port City Trail.

Thursbay was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with property damage, intimidation, having an open container, resisting or obstructing a law enforcement officer without violence and tampering with evidence.

The latter charge is a third-degree felony.

The time of the incident was reported as 7 p.m. ET.

That is less than 30 minutes after the adjournment of a workshop at which commissioners determined a proposal to create a “specialty district” within the business area “dead,” in the words of Mayor Bo Patterson. (see related story A1)

During the meeting, Thursbay spoke at length, often repeating himself, about his service to the people and listening to the people who opposed the creation of a zone where alcoholic beverages could be consumed outdoors.

During several segments of remarks, he spoke directly about individuals in the audience, Jimmy Gainnie his next door neighbor as a youth who had helped raise him, Mary Lou Cumbie, was a person with whom he put his trust.

“I love you, Mary Lou,” Thursbay said at one point.

He twice interrupted Patterson and Commissioner David Ashbrook during their remarks, repeating his pledge of working for the people and his belief that the workshop represented how democracy should work.

After the meeting, several attendees noted Thursbay’s behavior, one saying, “You could tell something was wrong.”

Leaving the meeting, a car, ultimately determined to be driven by Thursbay, was observed driving down Garrison from the Commission meeting room while being “all over the road” and leaving his lane at least three times, according to a witness traveling Garrison 200-300 yards behind Thursbay.

Thursbay turned at 20th and was approaching the Port City Trail just past Marvin Ave. when the vehicle abruptly made a left turn off the road.

The witness observed Thursbay exiting the vehicle.

When Port St. Joe Police Officer David Graham arrived on the scene, acting on an anonymous phone tip to Police Chief Matt Herring, Thursbay was standing next to the vehicle roughly 50 yards past a trail sign warning “no motor vehicles allowed.”

Thursbay’s vehicle was damaged on the front end and was stuck on a concrete trail marker, Graham wrote in his report.

“Upon talking with Thursbay I could detect a strong odor of an intoxicating beverage,” Graham wrote, adding that Thursbay’s speech was slurred and he appeared unsteady on his feet.

Thursbay told Graham his vehicle was stuck and he needed help getting it out and acknowledged he had been drinking “earlier.”

Thursbay could not produce a driver’s license.

While Graham was relaying information to dispatch, he observed Thursbay “enter back into his vehicle and retrieve a silver metal cup and begin pouring the contents of the cup onto the ground,” Graham’s report detailed.

Graham, in the presence of an off-duty law enforcement officer cycling on the trail at the time, ordered Thursbay to stop and step away from the vehicle.

Thursbay refused.

Graham wrote that he took hold of Thursbay to pull him away from the vehicle, but Thursbay resisted by grabbing the steering wheel and holding on.

Graham got Thursbay away from the vehicle and was attempting to place him under arrest when Thursbay “continued his combative demeanor” by pulling his arms away.

By that time several law enforcement units from the PSJPD and Gulf County Sheriff’s Office were on scene: it required several officers to bring Thursbay under control, in handcuffs and placed in the back of a patrol unit.

The silver cup, Graham said, smelled of alcohol.

Thursbay refused to take a breathalyzer after Graham was forced to read the implied consent warning on penalties for refusing a breathalyzer to Thursbay twice before the commissioner acknowledged he understood.